Eco-friendly printing. It’s amazing to print green

Updated: 2021-06-22

A strong focus on the environment is a theme in many industries. Manufacturers of printers and printer cartridges are no exception. Directly in their production processes, they focus on several aspects that can reduce their environmental impact and ensure sustainable eco-friendly printing.

Printing technologies and the use of recycled materials

Companies that manufacture printers are nowadays able to use recycled materials very sensibly in the manufacture of new equipment. An example is HP, which uses 30% recycled material in its new printer models.

The production process is subject to strict ecological standards. Even before a printer reaches the production lines, developers work on the various eco-innovations that the device will contain. What can the manufacturers of printers and printing consumables do to contribute to ecology? 

  • Continuous product innovation (features that contribute to saving consumables)
  • Reducing the energy consumption of equipment
  • Production process with an eco-friendly program
  • Reducing waste in production
  • Use of recycled material in the production of new equipment and consumables
  • Reducing the carbon footprint 
  • Recycling of ink cartridges and toners 
  • Exchange programs for used printer cartridges 
  • Wider promotion of recycled paper for manufactured printers
  • Various outreach programs such as ocean clean-ups, planting new trees

There is a lot that can be done to contribute to the environment without significantly reducing user experience and print quality. Manufacturers are moving in the right direction, let us hope that this is not just a marketing ploy. 

The low environmental footprint of printers

Environmental footprint is defined as a method of measuring the impact of human activities on planet Earth. It is the amount of planet Earth’s natural resources a person uses up and contributes to pollution in the process of living. It is measured in terms of carbon dioxide emissions, water use, and waste production. Although carbon dioxide is most often the focus of discussions about how big your environmental footprint is, this is actually only one of many impactful factors.

Reducing the carbon footprint

The carbon footprint is caused by carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Manufacturers are therefore placing great emphasis on reducing the carbon footprint and focusing on operating manufacturing plants using renewable energies.

They are reducing waste in production, replacing packaging with recycled material, and reducing the use of materials made from petroleum. The next step is various recycling and consumable exchange programs (used ink cartridges and toner cartridges). In the overall environmental program, they do not forget to educate their employees about environmental responsibility. 

Reducing printer energy consumption

Not only lower energy consumption in the production process on the lines is a priority for manufacturers, but also low consumption in operations.

Companies are innovating their equipment so that printers use as little electricity as possible in operation. The next step is minimal consumption in sleep mode, automatic switching to power saving mode, switching off in idle mode, and various Eco-functions to promote low consumption.

Some printers include ENERGYSTAR certification, which you can recognize by the blue logo on the product. The label guarantees that the product meets energy efficiency requirements and performs the same or better than similar models with much lower power consumption. 

Everything about eco-friendly printing

High-capacity cartridges and toners vs. tank cartridges

Manufacturers have moved away from standard ink and toner cartridges to support high-capacity cartridges that can print a greater volume of print per replacement. Such eco-friendly XL cartridges can reduce the consumption of replacement printer cartridges.

The user prints many times the number of pages with a single cartridge. An even more environmentally friendly solution is the integrated large-volume ink cartridges. Printers with a tank reservoir are now available from almost every printer manufacturer. 

Printer recycling programs

These relate not only to the use of recycled material in the manufacture of new printers but especially in the cartridges. Ink and toner cartridges are either recycled so that the plastic material is reused in the manufacture of new cartridges or remanufactured under the Refurbished program. Branded empty cartridges are reused. Buybacks are carried out by printer cartridge dealers, but also by the manufacturers themselves as part of their own used cartridge exchange programs. 

Particular printer manufacturers Eco-programs

We looked at the websites of a number of proven printer manufacturers to see what programs they have in place to approach eco-friendly printing. Almost every company has this data publicly available, as well as declarations and periodic reports regarding ecology.

HP eco-friendly printing

HP uses up to 30% recycled material in its new printers. It offers both inkjet and laser devices with a tank in its portfolio. In addition to automatic duplex printing features to save paper, HP models meet the ENERGYSTAR standard.

Original HP cartridges support a wide range of security and environmental features. The company is also involved in and has its own print consumables collection and recycling system in all countries where it markets its products. There is also an environmentally friendly waste disposal system.

Recently, HP also pushes its innovative aqueous-dispersed polymer (Latex) technology.

Canon Eco-Friendly Printing

Canon has stated in its environmental statement that it considers environmental effects and supports the reduction of environmental burdens at all stages of the product life cycle. Canon is focused on developing proprietary environmental technologies that serve as the basis for these efforts.

It has successfully reduced energy consumption in its products and built the Canon Eco Technology Park, where it introduced an automated recycling system. It boasts the CARS-T system, which is an automated recycling line that shreds used toner cartridges and then automatically separates the materials within them using various physical characteristics such as electrostatic charge and specific gravity to eventually yield high-impact polystyrene (HIPS). In this way, Canon promotes closed-loop recycling by extracting raw materials from used toner cartridges and reusing them for new cartridges. 

For ink cartridges, it has a similar automatic recycling system, CARS-I, whereby used ink cartridges are automatically identified by the camera and sorted accordingly. This is done using an integrated automated line for processes ranging from disassembly and powdering to washing. By extracting different materials and processing high-purity recovered plastics, these resources can be reused as raw materials for ink cartridges.

Lexmark Eco-Friendly Printing

Lexmark is known for its environmentally friendly attitude. It offers free high-capacity toner cartridges as part of its Lexmark Rewards program. The only conditions are a commitment to use only original toner and to return empty cartridges to the company for recycling.

Epson Eco-Friendly Printing

Epson has its own EcoTank model range with a cartridge-free system. EcoTank printers with an integrated cartridge are not only eco-friendly but can deliver up to 90% cost savings to the user. It may be recalled that Epson was the first to launch cartridgeless printers with a tank system.

The company has set goals to contribute to the development of a sustainable society by using efficient, compact technologies to reduce the environmental impact of products and services throughout their life cycle. It is committed to developing environmentally friendly products. Nor does Epson forget to recycle products at the end of their useful life and take back empty cartridges. 

Other printer manufacturers are also not lagging and strive to produce eco-friendly printers and inks.